My interest in physician wellbeing and subsequently my involvement in WRaP EM, came from my own episode of burnout early in my career as an Emergency Physician. I didn’t know it was burnout at the time as that word was not yet part of the common vernacular of the medical profession.
For many years, I never spoke of this event in my career. I watched silently as others faced the same struggle to balance their career in medicine with the rest of their busy lives. One day I decided to be brave and told my story to a group of junior doctors in my department during a teaching session. I was met with stunned silence. No-one had talked to them about this stuff before. Within hours, I had multiple trainees contact me, by email, by phone and in person thanking me for sharing my story. They confided that they were also struggling to manage their own wellbeing and asked if we could do more teaching sessions about this topic.
I realized then that there was a huge gap in our curriculum in medicine. Nothing we are taught at medical school prepares us for the personal and professional challenges we will face in our career. No-one teaches us the skills required to make our career sustainable & satisfying through to retirement. We are left to find our own path to personal and professional fulfillment. After much personal exploration of this topic, I started to teach this “hidden curriculum” to my trainees. More and more of my colleagues joined the conversation and over time I released just how many of us in medicine were struggling with trying to balance life, family and a career.
I became involved in WRaP EM because I think it is a wonderful opportunity for our profession to have a conversation about how to thrive at work rather than just survive. Sharing our stories and our vulnerability is important as it reminds us that as doctors, we are all human, and as humans we are not infallible. Having a community like WRaP EM also reminds us that we are not alone in this constant juggle to balance our career with the rest of our lives.
The WRaP EM website and blog provides a place for these conversations to happen. Clinicians from all fields of healthcare can to come together, share their ideas and explore strategies for managing their own wellbeing. Our hope is that some of you will take these ideas back into your own workplaces and make it part of what you teach, no longer hidden but being taught openly and freely as part of the core curriculum of emergency medicine.